Five Do’s And Don’ts Before Deer Season

Summer can be very busy, but summertime can also be very productive if you set your mind to it. The months of June, July and August are the three months every hunter should be thinking about October, November and December and for some even September. Here are five do’s and don’ts of summer that will help you identify what needs to be accomplished before the season opener.

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Do: Check all your gear

This always comes back to bite me every year, because there’s that one item I didn’t think about replacing or buying a new one before the season opened, and I find myself scrambling for the funds to purchase it after I’ve already purchased deer stands, arrows, broadheads, food plot blend, etc. Whether it’s bug spray, new socks or a scent eliminator be sure to check every item before the season begins. Then, check one more time and you won’t regret it.

Do: Spend time with the family

I can’t stress this enough. Don’t spend all summer at your hunting property. Pick a day or two to get things done and don’t go back until September unless you have to. You are going to be gone all of October and November, and the best thing you can do for your family over the summer is give them the time they deserve, especially if you’re taking a week or two for your rut vacation.

Don’t: Give too much credence to summer scouting

Bucks with velvet act a lot different after they rub their velvet clean off. They shift their core areas, they break out of their bachelor groups and some will hardly move anymore during the daylight hours. The average hunter cannot form too much of a game plan in July or August of where to hunt the hit-list buck because when the velvet comes off that buck’s testosterone level increases, and he essentially becomes a new man. If you’re using trail cameras take note of the pictures your getting but don’t get too excited just yet.

Do: Clean out the freezer

Unless you have four or five deep freezers it’s time to start cooking burgers, grilling steaks and marinating back strap. After you harvest your first deer you’re going to need room in the freezer. This will also be a good excuse not to go out to eat, in turn, saving you money for more important items like arrows and new camouflage before the season.

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Using a water hole can be a deadly setup, especially during the early season when it’s hot and there has been little rain.

Don’t: Get behind on preparation

This is huge. When archery season begins you don’t want to find yourself playing catch up. Shoot your bow, set up your tree stands, check your release, set up your blind and the list goes on and on. I’ve found out over the years that the more prepared I am the more success I have in the deer woods. Waterholes, like the one shown above can be deadly. Make sure to freshen up the water as often as possible so the deer won’t be harmed by bacteria growing in the heat.

The more scouting I do beforehand the better my odds when I’m making a move on that big, mature buck. If I get my food plot planted, fertilized and watered with enough time the better chance I have of drawing deer within shooting range.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

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Mangle Broadheads

Receive 10% off your purchase when you use promo code “BULL10” at checkout.

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scent crusher

BLACK-EAGLE-BRAND-BANNER

Olin's Customcalls done

BWT done

Have you started preparing for fall hunting season yet? Here’s how you can create a poor man’s food plot on a small budget.

Yes, it’s time already to begin your summer preparation for the fall whitetail season. Food plots, trail camera surveys and mineral sites are just a few items on the list that will lead to a higher success rate when hunting this fall.

It seems no matter how hard I try to stay ahead of the game there’s always something I should have done already to prepare for next season. Deer hunting can definitely be a year-round process even if you don’t work in the industry for a living.

In this webisode we’ll show you how we are preparing our ‘poor man’s’ plot by spraying the weeds and privet to create more room for our food plot to grow and to cut down on the invasive species.

If you haven’t already you can subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with what we’re doing during the off season as well as watch videos from turkey season.

We finished spraying the weeds and privet with a weed killer we bought from our local hardware store. You might also be wondering why I am wearing goggles. Especially when it’s windy, the spray can irritate your eyes, so be sure to be equipped with the proper safety precautions.

Additionally, ticks are bad this time of year. Make sure to spray down with bug spray to prevent ticks and tick bites as this could later hamper your hunting season.

Be sure to stay tuned as we check back in a couple of weeks to begin tilling and planting for the summer and/or fall.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor, Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors and subscribe on YouTube @Bulldawgoutdoors.

Bulldawg Outdoors is brought to you by:

Mangle Broadheads

Receive 10% off your purchase when you use promo code “BULL10” at checkout.

IMG_8450

scent crusher

BLACK-EAGLE-BRAND-BANNER

Olin's Customcalls done

BWT done

Summer Prep: Poor Man’s Plot, Trail Cameras and Mineral Sites.

These 3 late season scouting tactics will get you ready for next season.

As deer season nears to a close several hunters are packing it in for the winter months. They might try harvesting one or two more does for the freezer or try for that elusive giant that seems to be skirting daylight hours. Whatever the case may be, there are late season scouting tactics that could prove helpful for next year’s season.

Seek Out Bedding

A tactic that could make the entire difference in your deer season next year is locating bedding areas. Because much of the flora has lost its spring density deer are more limited to where they can bed – unless you created several bedding areas by hinge cutting in the off season.  However, knowing where these bedding areas are could be dynamite for the rut, especially doe bedding areas. Additionally, this knowledge of bedding areas will provide a head start for locating buck movement during the late season next year.

Know the Food

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Depending on the crop year depends on where whitetails congregate throughout the season. If orchards are present on your land then that might be the early season food of choice. If you planted clover then deer might prefer that throughout the summer and early fall. There are so many options it really takes knowing what your deer herd prefers. Also identifying what’s naturally growing on your hunting parcel will you give an idea of what deer eat on a day-to-day basis.

This year in southern Virginia we had a large white oak acorn crop. Deer, especially mature bucks, did not need to move as much because the acorns were literally feet from their bed. The hard part was figuring out which bed they were in. The catch 22 was that a neighboring property timbered several acres three years ago, and just this year the secondary succession was perfect for deer bedding. Needless to say it was quite the chess match.

However, if you don’t have a bumper acorn crop where are the deer focusing their feeding movements? Is it a cut corn field? Could it be alfalfa or brassica? It could be any or all of these. What’s pertinent is that you find what the deer are feeding on in your region. Up until this point this season, deer still are not feeding on the brassica which they have enjoyed in the past three years. It might just take another month or so before they shift to this. Unfortunately, it might be a month too late. Know what your deer feed on when, and it could be the difference of harvesting or not harvesting a mature buck this winter.

Find the Travel Routes

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Late season can be tough because many deer become nocturnal and wait in staging areas until it gets dark. Find these staging areas, hang a stand, make sure the wind is in your favor and wait. I’ve witnessed deer hold up right inside a wood line until dark. I’m sure many of you have witnessed this as well. The reason is because deer have been pressured by hunters all year and are more wary of predators.

Simultaneously, you can begin looking at these funnels and pinch points for clues to next year’s season. Observe where these deer are moving and ask yourself, “why are the deer being funneled this way?” Is there a terrain feature? Is it the wind? Are there drainages that are impossible for the deer to cross? Search these out and take advantage of where it forces the deer. Sometimes in the winter it can be easier to identify these funnels, drainages and crossings because the leaves have fallen and line of sight is clearer.

Whatever your goals are for late season hunting, make sure to take every advantage to scout for the next year as well.It could be the difference.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors Facebook page. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors.

NEXT:3 Keys to Late Season Success

3 Tactics to Late Season Scouting

These 3 keys to late season success will give you a great chance at harvesting a mature buck. 

By Nathan Unger

For many hunters the rut is what they plan their annual vacation around. There is nothing wrong with that. The deer are moving, chasing, seeking and rutting and can make for an eventful hunt in the tree stand. However, one of my favorite times to hunt is from the last week in November  until the end of the season.

Mature bucks revert back to their feeding patterns that provide hunters a great opportunity for a harvest. Here are some keys to successfully bagging a bruiser buck during frigid temps and food shortages.

Food

Whitetails need food just as much as humans and other animals require sustenance in order to survive. Depending on where you are hunting deer may need more food. For example deer in Kansas may require more food during the snowy, winter months than, say, deer in Florida.Snow and cold temperatures are going to get deer moving and searching for high caloric food in order to maintain body heat and energy. It is true that mature bucks become nocturnal more so than they are in the rut. This could be from hunting pressure, less energy or just preservation of body heat. However, they have to feed periodically in order to survive.

Trail Cameras

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Caleb Unger with his 4 1/2 year old he encountered and harvested on December 19, 2015.

If you are going to pattern a late season buck you need trail cameras. If you can pinpoint his movements in and out of his bedding area your chances increase drastically. The deer may only move 10 minutes before shooting light ends, so the use of trail cameras will help you locate his movements with minimum pressure on his home range. We pinpointed this deer with trail cameras throughout the unseasonably hot temperatures of the 2015 season. But on the first day of a cold snap, Unger capitalized on a food source as this buck was on his way back to bed.

Warm Clothes

I cannot stress enough how important the right clothing for late season hunting can be. It could be the difference between staying out for several hours or calling it quits at dusk because of the lack of feeling in your toes. Trust me, been there, done that. I make sure I have ample clothing, but not too much where it prohibits circulation. I also take along hand and feet warmers which have changed the length of time I’m able to stay in the woods during winter.

One last note I wanted to make. If you define success differently these tactics can still be useful. If you are simply trying to fill the freezer food sources and trail cameras remain important tools for the job. However you define success be sure to get out and hunt. The season is almost over!

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors.

NEXT:Using Trail Camera Surveys to Your Advantage

3 Keys to Late Season Success

Three Deer Stand Locations That Will Lead to Success

By Nathan Unger

Each summer, as hunters, we’re often faced with the conundrum of where to place our deer stands for the coming deer season. Deer stand locations are important because it could be the difference between harvesting that big whitetail you’ve been dreaming about all summer long.

Hunters have to ask themselves a few questions before they set up stands:

Should I place a stand where I’m seeing summer bachelor group bucks?

Male whitetail home ranges can vary drastically once their velvet comes off and their testosterone level increases. Bucks will move from food-to-bedding patterns in the summer to  looking for and chasing does in the fall.

These deer stand locations will account for some of these changes in home ranges, and will ultimately lead to success will a little bit of buck luck.

Find the food

three deer stand locations

The first location that will be good for the entire season is on the edge of a food source that is downwind of a bedding area where it funnels into that food source. This could include a food plot or a crop field.

If your state has an early bow season this could still be highly successful under the correct weather and pressure conditions in the early season as bucks are still easily patterned. Likewise, if the bedding area is a doe bedroom those bucks will be cruising all around during the rut and into December and January.

This is probably my favorite set-up because it’s good all year long.

The key? Early season scouting before dark or with trail cameras to see where the deer are entering the food sources to help narrow down which tree to precisely put a stand in.

Locate funnels

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A diagram of bedding areas, stand locations and food sources.

While some of this terminology may be more familiar in the western states they can still be applied in south where I do most of my hunting.

There have been several times that I have bumped deer because I thought there was no way they would be located on a certain hillside or in a certain ravine, but over the years it seems as if they prefer certain terrain to better smell approaching predators.

Funnels are a specific point where several paths intersect that deer prefer to travel because of terrain features or obstacles.

The key? Make sure your stand is on the downwind side of these funnels and that you’ve done your research on where that buck is traveling from.

A lot of times that mature buck will make a ‘J-hook’ to sniff out the area before entering a certain location. Oftentimes this is specific to bedding, however deer don’t always follow the rules.

These can be successful during the rut primarily as bucks are chasing does and can be careless from time to time especially if the wind is in your favor.

Identify benches

These unique, topographical ledges are exactly what they sound like. Imagine a hillside being the backboard of a bench and the seat being an off-shoot of that hill. These off-shoots are some of mature bucks favorite bedding areas because they can see anything coming from below them and smell anything coming from above them.

Numerous times have I gotten too close to these areas and bumped deer because they caught my scent. Setting up a stand on the downwind side of the entrance to these benches will be great sites to place a stand.

Diagram

The diagram above highlights food sources, “F”, bedding areas are marked with a purple circle,”X” marks stand locations and the purple lines are streams running through the property. The three X’s that are immediately adjacent to the red borders are the funnels specific to this property where the terrain or stream forces deer into this specific location.

The X’s that are not located on a food sources or immediately next to the red border are benches where the deer will sometimes bed or travel in between food sources or bedding areas.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. By no means is this a one-size-fits-all formula, but for the majority it will lead to hunting success this season.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter@Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors

NEXT:New to Mineral Stations? This Will Help.

Why I Slept In Instead of Going Hunting

Quality sits far outweigh quantity of sits.

As I mature as a hunter and learn new tips and tricks with experience I’ve come to find out that it is not the quantity of sits in a tree stand that leads to success but the quality of sits.

Oftentimes we think that the more hours we put in the better chance we’ll have of shooting a nice mature buck. When in reality this is not always the case.

If a hunter constantly walks into his tree stand on poor weather conditions or when the wind isn’t right or late in the evening after work he or she increases the odds of educating a mature buck. I recently heard somebody say, “if someone walks into your house you’re going to know they are there.” The same goes for these old bruisers as well.

Another reason I don’t feel guilty for sleeping in is because if you’re like me and you have trail cameras and you’re not getting any pictures of mature bucks during legal shooting hours then don’t think he’s randomly just going to show up under your tree stand when you’re hunting. Am I saying it isn’t possible? Not at all. Crazy things happen. What I’m saying is the majority of mature bucks are going to change their pattern especially in the early season when they are in their food-to-bed routines.

quality deer hunting sits

Additionally, because of the change in food sources during the early season, if you’re not getting pictures at all of those mature bucks that you were getting during the summer it’s probably because they have switched food sources. The key is finding out what that new favored food source is.

A similar factor that has been dictating deer movement in my home state of Georgia is the lack of rain. We haven’t had rain in over a month at least, and the deer are sticking close to where the water sources are. Be sure to plan your sits around a water source during these times of drought because most of these mature bucks will be bedding during the day, going straight to food and water and directly back to their beds. If you are not hunting somewhere in between chances are you’ll never see him.

What if I only have one week to hunt?

My answer to that would be save it for either the rut or late season when the weather is cooler. Unless you have ample camera data where that mature buck is moving during legal shooting hours I wouldn’t even risk using a weeks vacation in the early season. I understand not everyone can go hunting 30-to-40 times a season, so choose wisely the time of year you can take off. I certainly wish I could go more than I do, but I also realize I’m fortunate enough to go more often than a lot of people can. In which case if you only have one week you have to go.

The experience of deer hunting far outweighs not going at all just because the conditions are not perfect. Maximize weather conditions (i.e. wind, rain, temperature, pressure, etc.) the best you can and enjoy the process. It’s better to be out hunting rather than sitting inside and not hunting at all.

Like what you see here? You can read more awesome hunting-related articles by Nathan Unger at the Bulldawg Outdoors blog. Follow him on Twitter @Bulldawgoutdoor and on Instagram @Bulldawgoutdoors

NEXTHunting Bad Weather Conditions: Is It Worth The Trouble?

Using Trail Camera Surveys to Your Advantage

By Nathan Unger

Every summer it is important to get an accurate depiction of the amount and the type of deer that are frequenting your piece of property. How do you do that you ask? Trail camera surveys.

Trail camera surveys will help you understand how many does, fawns and bucks are in the area as well as the buck-to-doe ratio for your specific piece of land. However, as the velvet comes off in late summer and testosterone levels increase in bucks their range can tend to shift as they begin to seek out does and different food sources for the fall months.

No matter if the bucks stay or leave, trail camera surveys will give you a good estimate on age structure of bucks as well as individual characteristics of those bucks.

How to begin

trail camera survey

The first thing you obviously need are trail cameras. Be sure they have plenty of battery life, and if you are doing a survey on public land it’s probably a good idea to secure it with a lock to prevent it from being stolen.

Take your preferred choice of attractant and spread it out over an area 10 to 14 days prior to beginning your survey to give deer time to get used to the site. Also be sure to start the survey prior to acorns or any fruits fall from their trees, or else your survey will not be as accurate as it could be.

When you begin collecting data be sure your camera isn’t facing the sun or you’ll get several pictures with nothing on them which makes going through hundreds upon thousands of pictures monotonous.

Maximize your data

You then want to set your camera on field mode or food plot mode to take pictures at multiple intervals not just when deer cross, or you will miss several deer that otherwise wouldn’t be in range. For example, have it take a couple pictures 3 to 5 seconds apart then every 5 to 10 minutes. Obviously, if you want more pictures you will set it to take pictures more often.

This will enable you to pattern any bucks moving during the daylight hours or any deer for that matter. It will also allow you to see how many fawns are being dropped in addition to any does that remain pregnant.

Here is a portion of a survey we took after the season.

These surveys will show you characteristics of deer as well as if they are huntable or whether they’re strictly moving during nighttime hours.

Trail Cameras

I understand that two or three trail cameras is what most people can afford especially with all the other hunting equipment needed for a successful hunt. You don’t want to use all of your hunting budget your wife gives you on trail cameras.

If you are doing a survey over a field or plot and only have two or three, try to strategically place the cameras where you think the deer are entering and leaving the plot. You may have one buck show up on the south side of the field that would have never been caught on a camera placed on the north end.

After 14 days or so, if you’re not satisfied with your pictures move a camera to a different location and begin the survey again.

Be sure to refresh the mineral sites depending on how fast the deer eat it. You want the deer to consistently show up for 14 to 21  days to provide you ample data for your survey.

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NEXT: New to Mineral Stations? This Will Help.